YPG Commander Hemo: We don’t accept Turkey's presence in any form

YPG Commander Sipan Hemo said: “We don’t accept the Turkish state’s presence or invasion in this region in any form. I want to stress that we don’t recognize their alliances either. Our goal and struggle to liberate the Azaz-Jarablus area will continue.”

YPG Commander Sipan Hemo spoke to the Yeni Özgür Politika newspaper and, stating that the Turkish state’s presence in Rojava/Northern Syria is illegitimate and to the disadvantage of the peoples therein, said: “They are invaders in every way. Nobody can turn away from this reality. The fact that their goal is to defeat the Rojava Revolution does not change the fact that they are invaders.” Hemo also said that the US announcing the extent of their agreements and cooperation with the Turks and how much of it goes against the peoples of Rojava and Syria in a satisfactory manner is what all the peoples expect.

YPG Commander Sipan Hemo answered questions on the Turkish state stockpiling forces, seeking new approvals over Russia and openly speaking of invading Efrîn and Shehba.

The Turkish state and their allied gangs keep the Jarablus-Bab-Azaz triangle under their invasion. After they were blocked in Manbij and kept away from the Raqqa operation, they didn’t only intensify their attacks on Efrîn and Shehba, but they have also stockpiled forces recently. Can you tell us what the Turkish presence in the invaded area and the Shehba and Efrîn border aims for?

The Turkish state has officially invaded the area from Jarablus to Exterîn and from Exterîn to Bab, and they turned the “Euphrates Shield” name made up of gangs allied to them into a detail. These groups had been tied to the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT) since the beginning of the Syrian war, and they “fought” against Syria at first. Then they changed route and declared a de facto war on the Rojava Revolution and the Kurds. So, since back then, they focused on the Azaz and Shehba areas and stockpiled forces and weapons. And now they are sending reinforcements every day.

The Turkish state’s goals are deep. They want to conduct an operation from the Jarablus area to Shehba and Bab, and from there towards Rojava to join with Idlib. They want to establish an authority in the area where it looks like it’s the gangs in control, but in reality it is the Turkish state. That way, they will solidify their rule there and then continue with the dissolution of the Rojava Revolution from the Efrîn area. And on top of that, they will have asserted their position in the future and restructuring of Syria. So the Turkish state’s desires, goals and thus their plans are quite deep. They don’t even hide it, they openly say that they want an area allied to them from Jarablus and Manbij to Idlib. Aleppo was part of their plans before actually, but after they struck a deal with Russia, they let go of Aleppo. Now they want a corridor from Shehba to Idlib towards Rojava and they plan accordingly.

We expect attacks in the coming days on Shehba and Efrîn from both Ezaz and Idlib sides to weaken our forces, create a corridor and achieve control from Jarablus to Idlib. They are stockpiling and reinforcing daily to this end. Sometimes they attack, and we retaliate immediately. All their attacks have been voided. There are no changes in territorial control up to date.

Efrîn has been under a kind of siege for a long time now, but despite that, it has covered a lot of ground in social organization and in legitimate self defense. How prepared is Efrîn for such an attack, considering the social structure as a whole, military and political institutions, relationships and alliances? What can you tell us about the makeup and positioning of your military forces?

Efrîn, as you said, has been under siege for a long time, and it has been involved in a war at various levels. The city has been struggling like this since almost 2012. In this long period of time, our forces have developed both a serious defense, and have achieved valuable successes. Being alert, prepared and taking good positions are principal duties for such a force in any case. The people of Efrîn are valiant and devoted. They have displayed a dignified stance despite all the troubles, hardships, the siege and the embargo, and they are determined to go beyond even that. Our belief is that if today the Turkish state attempts an invasion or intensify the attacks that would be precursors to an invasion, the people of Efrîn will come together around the defense forces and stand with them. Such an attempt will, contrary to the expectations of our enemies, lead the way for a new period of successes. An important phase of the Rojava Revolution will have been completed. Nobody should forget that Efrîn will play a huge role in both its own defense and the liberation of Shehba. I won’t go into details, but all the forces are at the highest alert against all possibilities.

It has also been exposed that the Baath regime and their allies are not happy with the operation to liberate Raqqa launched by the YPG-led SDF with support from the US-led International Coalition, when the slander propaganda turned into attacks. This common discomfort with the Turks is said to be shared by Iran and Russia as well, and that this paves the way for the Turkish army’s attempt at an invasion. How do you read these developments? What does the Russia-Iran-Baath stance look like from your vantage point?

That is a correct assessment, and we also see it as such. The YPG-led SDF achieving successes with support from the US-led International Coalition, then launching the Raqqa operation and the advance there naturally disturbs the other bloc. There is nothing incomprehensible there. Of course they will be disturbed, and they will continue to be disturbed. It is possible that they will prepare the groundwork for a new attempt on attacks and an invasion by the Turkish state. Those assessments are also correct. Analyses other than these are misleading and untrue. Our alliances and successes disturb the bloc around Russia, they are not happy with us.

This crisis will show its face more clearly in the coming period.

Our issue is not the way these forces look at and treat each other. What we have done for the democratization of Rojava and Syria, what our moves have been are all out in the open. We continue on our path with our own project according to our own agenda. So, we focus on our own projects and maneuvers, rather than the US, Russia or other forces. Because what’s essential to us is our plans and our goals. Our relationship with international powers is based on this. We are involved with international powers to the extent that the framework of Rojava’s freedom and Syria’s democratization allows. Naturally, we have the right to demand respect and understanding for this from powerful states like the US and Russia.

What is the level of information that the US, as the leader of the International Coalition, has on this maneuver by the Turkish army? What is the scenario in the works in the face of such a possibility?

This question should be answered by the leader of the International Coalition, the US, in a clear way. They are the ones who will declare to us the level and extent and the framework of their relationship, preparation, agreement and cooperation with the Turks and how much of it goes against our interests. So, the US answering this question in a satisfactory manner is the expectation of all the peoples of Rojava and Northern Syria.

Considering these are all done to prevent the Raqqa victory, what will this victory look like when viewed from the Efrîn canton?

The effects of the success and the final victory in Raqqa won’t be local. It will mark a new and great period for the whole of Syria. It will be the base threshold in the democratization of Syria. We have believed so since the Manbij process, our fight against terrorism will continue everywhere. Our goal is not hidden at all, it is out in the open: We are not doing these to become a piece in the whole, we are doing what we do to be a main/founding constituent in the democratization of Syria.

As this is our stance, it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment too much on scenarios based on the secretive and dirty cooperation between the international powers and Turks. Our goals, targets and methods and our understanding of alliances based on these are very transparent.

The Turkish President reiterated before the Eid that they will never allow the Kurds to have status. What other malice could be expected from them, and what could your reaction to it evolve into?

Look, our goal in this region is clear and transparent. We don’t accept the Turkish state presence in the region in any form. They may have gained some opportunities and built some international alliances. I want to stress this: We don’t recognize these alliances either. The liberation of Azaz-Jarablus will always be one of our goals and our struggle to this end will continue. Since the beginning, the Turkish state has taken an illegitimate position towards Rojava and Syria, and their presence goes against the interests of the peoples here. They are invaders in every sense of the word, and they have invaded territory here. Nobody can turn away from this reality. The fact that their end goal is to defeat the Rojava Revolution changes nothing of this fact.

* This article first appeared on Yeni Özgür Politika newspaper and was translated by ANF English service.